Thiruvananthapuram, Jan 12: Speedster Sreesanth, who has been in wilderness for over seven years because of a betting/fixing-related life ban, returned to competitive cricket on Monday and bagged a solitary wicket for Kerala against Puducherry in an Elite E match of the T20 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy in Mumbai.

Sreesanth returned after the Ombudsman of the Indian cricket board -- which had banned him for life -- reduced the ban on a suggestion/directive of the Supreme Court, which the bowler had moved to have his ban rescinded. He was initially arrested in the match-fixing/betting case during the 2013 Indian Premier League.
In the second match of the day, played at the Wankhede Stadium on Monday, 37-year-old Sreesanth bagged one wicket for 29 runs in four overs at an economy rate of 7.25 as the Sanju Samson-led Kerala beat Puducherry by six wickets with 10 balls to spare.

Interestingly, Sreesanth's former Ranji Trophy teammate, Tinu Yohannan, who has also represented India, is head coach of the Kerala team. The fast bowler was a regular in the Indian team and was part of the team that won the 2007 T20 World Cup and the 50-over World Cup in 2011 at the Wankhede Stadium, where he returned to competitive cricket on Monday.

"God is great. My faith in god has given me this opportunity to comeback for the Kerala team. I am physically fitter than I was in 2011 when we won the World Cup. I am expecting to perform well and the team has both experienced hands like Robin Uthappa, Jalaj Saxena, Sachin Baby, captain Sanju Samson, as well as young players like KM Asif," Sreesanth said over phone from Mumbai.Sony Cheruvathur, a former Kerala Ranji Trophy captain and a compatriot of Sreesanth, said he is a gifted bowler.

"I know Sreesanth and his attitude. He is raring to go and he has always been an aggressive person in the field and this nature will take him a long way. He is a gifted fast bowler and I am expecting him to perform exceedingly well. He is a happy go lucky guy," Cheruvathur said. - IANS